ELORA – Christine Eberle lives in Elora and started Yoga for Stiff Guys in 2011 after noticing there were fewer men than women in the yoga classes she instructed.
She thought the men may have been intimidated to come to a class with women since they tend to be less flexible than women, she said.
Eberle wanted to try out a class just for men and build a community where they can show up and not have to worry about anything. The men even went out for beers together sometimes, she said.
When the classes started it was popular, said Eberle.
She said the name of the class Yoga for Stiff Guys helped because it added a little humour to it.
“In our minds we have this perception who is a yogi and who isn’t a yogi? It doesn’t have anything to do with … it’s good for all of us. And everybody should come to look after their bodies,” said Eberle.
Sometimes people miss a couple of classes and realize they need to come back because they say “I've missed this in my life. I've been able to tie my shoes. And notice how my back starts to hurt again, and this and that,” she said.
Murray Atchison has been practicing yoga for 10 years. He started because he wanted to keep his flexibility and mobility as he gets older.
“The flexibility has improved each time and it's come a long way. And it helps the golf swing. That was the big thing for me,” said Atchison.
Not only is it good for physical health but mental health too and this is part of the reason Men’s Yoga Night started this year at Karma Yoga.
Guelph's Karma Yoga owner Morgan Story lost her brother two years ago on Nov. 10 to mental health issues. She wanted to start a men’s only yoga class at her studio; she just wanted to find a man to teach it. Shawn Robson, yoga student turned teacher was the answer.
The men who are regulars in the class initially heard Robson was teaching and decided to join, Robson said.
The age range of the men is 12 to late 60s.
“It's just a nice opportunity for the guys to come together without the women there without anyone else there and just have a kind of a safe space even to like joke around,” Story said.
“There's been many times where we actually have more men in the class than women and then some nights it's the other way,” said Story.
She thinks the women in a yoga class appreciate the men being there because it shows men are also taking care of their mental health.
Paul Reeve can’t remember when he started practicing yoga since it’s been so long.
“And I think back then it was just someone suggested, hey, yoga is pretty good. And it helps not just physically but spiritually as well. You know it's a grounding. It's a really beautiful grounding practice on top of the physical element,” said Reeve.
“I appreciate all the classes I attend, but I don't know there's just an energy. It's a good energy to have a bunch of guys. And these guys many of us have been there for a while,” said Reeve.
He goes to Jacqueline Gilbey’s Yoga for Men class at Arrive Yoga in Guelph. The class started about 10 years ago.
“And it started with a friend asking me if I would be willing to teach a group of him and his buddies. He knew, like a bunch of guys who are interested in yoga. But they didn't necessarily want to come to the studio to the environment where there's … women doing yoga,” said Gilbey.
When the men come to class they can relate to each other, she said. In any other yoga class there is one out of 10 people who are men, so it’s fairly dominated by women, she said.
The men affectionately call it “broga,” she said.